Bringing up children... your way
I am both a parent and a consultant in clinical psychology specialising in work with children, young people and their families.
For many years I have worked with a variety of families who, for one reason or another, have struggled to find a way through difficulties, arguments and sadness. We are living in a time of real confusion.
A variety of parenting theories, books, articles and TV programmes aim to enable parents to find the “right way” to manage their child’s behaviour, but seem in fact to muddle and disempower. Parents are overwhelmed by advice and tips from an industry growing out of the most basic and instinctive aspect of life — child rearing.
I have become part of this industry in writing books and making TV programmes about children and families with behavioural problems. However, as the success of the media-parenting industry grows, I find that the mothers and fathers whom I meet each week in my clinics seem more and more confused. Despite the overwhelming amount of information that is available many parents seem unable to make use of what they watch or read.
Many ask me whether they should favour one technique over another, or tell me that they have tried every method but “nothing works”.
With all my years of training and experience, you would think that I am breezing through the upbringing of my own two children. With a mother such as me who knows all the theory — every trick in the book (I’ve written two) — surely my children are models of the best-parented children. Well, no — they are not. My daughter had a sleep problem. I knew what to do: I’d written the paper; I was trained to deal with it. But standing over her cot at 4am looking at this little person whom I love more than anything else, for whom I would lay down my life, there was nothing I could do. Despite knowing all the techniques, my emotions, my overwhelming love and protectiveness for her, stopped logic, stopped reason and compelled me to pick her up and hold her close.
I don’t want my children to be “perfect” compliant little people with no spark of personality, no ability to say No and mean it, no sense of rage when they perceive injustice — I want them to have all those qualities for them to survive in a tough and exacting world.
Our role is to guide our children through these early experiences and help them to learn how to behave in a way that also allows them to live and communicate as social beings. And that is what parenting is about — knowing your child and having an instinctive connection to what works for them and for you in this, the most incredible relationship you will ever have. It’s about understanding their development as a series of challenges, and for these challenges to be celebrated rather than seen as negative moments, as hard work. It is about having the courage to let your child be when it feels right without worrying about what others will say.
From The Times
August 30, 2007
Dr Tanya Byron